Your sweet, soundly-sleeping baby is so lovely to observe, but if the baby sleeps with their mouth open, it’s time to inspect his mouth more thoroughly. Breath-through-the-mouth sleep patterns in babies can signify medical difficulties like sleep apnea. If your baby sleeps with its mouth open, take this as a sign to discuss with the baby’s pediatrician.
Signs That Your Child Breathes Through the Mouth
If your baby sleeps with their mouth open but breathes through the nose, you probably don’t need to worry. However, many signs can confirm mouth breathing. These include: snoring loudly, mouth breathing, grinding teeth while asleep, snorting when crying, and silent breathing. Although these problems may not seem serious now, they can lead to more serious conditions later in life, such as sleep apnea and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Potential Causes of Mouth Breathing in Babies
Whether you should worry or not about mouth breathing in babies depends on the cause. Babies who are mouth breathers and still breathe through their noses are probably fine, but those who breathe through their mouths may have a problem breathing through their noses. Some common causes responsible for mouth breathing in babies are sleep apnea, allergies, sleep habits, enlarged tonsils, etc.
Mouth breathing in babies is most often because the nasal passage is obstructed due to excess mucus; a baby’s nose can get stuffy or blocked with mucus. The mucus can build up, and the baby will breathe through their mouth as a survival reflex to get air. It’s nothing to worry about as long as they breathe through their nose. If they stop breathing through their nose, you may need to talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner.
Pediatric Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Although sleeping with your mouth open is not necessarily a cause for concern, it can be a symptom of a sleep disorder. Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea is the most common sleep disorder that causes mouth breathing in babies. Obstructive sleep apnea means that your baby’s upper airway is obstructed due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids. This obstruction prevents the child from breathing normally when they are asleep.
A deviated septum is when your baby’s nostrils are not the same size. This is caused by an abnormality of cartilage and bone that separates the baby’s nostrils from each other. Deviated septums can result in a baby sleeping with their mouth open to compensate for the abnormal nostrils size.
Some babies may get in the habit of breathing through their mouths after a bout of sickness or nasal congestion. If your baby is healthy and sleeps with his mouth open, he’ll likely grow out of it. It can take about 3 to 6 months for babies to learn how to breathe exclusively through their noses at night.
Babies can develop allergies that cause excessive mucus production that blocks their nasal passages. Allergies are caused by exposure to an allergen. If your baby sleeps with his mouth open and breathes through his nose, he probably doesn’t have allergies.
Tongue tie is a condition mostly present at birth that can restrict the tongue’s range of motion. Tongue-tied newborns are likely to have breathing difficulties because their tongue sits lower in the mouth and can result in obstruction by making the space for nasal breathing narrow.
Complications if Your Baby Continues to Sleep With their Mouth Open
If you’ve noticed that your baby sleeps with its mouth open and breathes through its mouth, then you might not think that mouth breathing during sleep would have any major consequences. However, a study found that breathing through the mouth during sleep is a major cause of discomfort among babies. Some of the complications associated with prolonged mouth breathing are;
Dry lips and mouth
Babies may sleep with their mouths open because they can’t breathe through their noses. When they’re asleep, their mouth may naturally fall open to allow more air to come in and out of the lungs. As the baby breathes, some saliva may evaporate quickly, thus causing dry mouth and lips.
There is a risk of asthma in babies who already have this condition because the allergens reach their lungs. This means that parents should be aware of the increased risk of an asthma attack and work to prevent it by keeping the baby’s sleeping space clean. If your baby sleeps with his or her mouth open, try to keep the room as dust-free as possible to prevent aggravating the condition.
Babies who breathe with their mouths open during sleep thrust their tongue or push it against the front teeth. This is called tongue thrusting. Tongue thrusting can cause problems like weakened tongue muscles that make it difficult for a child to stick out his or her tongue, misaligned teeth, and speech disorders.
Mouth breathing may interfere with the healthy development of a child’s jaw and face muscles. Breathing through the nose, however, stimulates the proper development of these muscles.
There are some reasons you should keep an eye on your baby’s mouth-breathing habits, such as a mouth breather’s tilted head putting pressure on the pelvis, back, shoulders, and neck, thus disrupting the baby’s musculoskeletal development.
Research indicates that mouth breathing may cause sleep disorders. The child cannot breathe through their nose, and the tongue falls back into the throat, interfering with sleeping positions. According to WebMD, children with ADHD often experience sleep deprivation which may also cause mouth breathing because of an inability to breathe deeply enough or restful breaths at night.
Sleeping with your mouth open can lead to swollen tonsils, dry cough, and inflamed tongue and teeth issues. Plus, babies who sleep with their mouths open tend to have foul-smelling breath and gingivitis. It’s important to be aware of these potential problems so you can take steps to treat them before they become serious issues. Note that prolonged mouth breathing in babies can affect your baby’s health.
Ways to Help Snoring or Mouth Breathing at Night
You can also see your doctor if your baby seems to have trouble nose breathing. Your child’s physician can figure out what’s blocking his or her airway and offer you a treatment, prescribe medication or advise further testing. Else, you can try these things out at home to clear congestion.
Use A Humidifier
The most common concern is when the baby’s mouth is open during sleep, you don’t need to worry as long as the baby breathes deeply and regularly. If your child has a stuffy nose or sinus infection, adding moisture to the air by using a humidifier can help them breathe easier at night.
Use An Air Filter
Babies are prone to allergies and other respiratory illnesses. If your baby sleeps with his mouth open, you may want to invest in an air filter. Air filters can help reduce exposure to allergens, which could cause your baby’s allergies or illness by impeding nose breathing, leading to blocked airways and heavy mouth breathing.
Remove Allergens If Possible
If you notice your baby sleeps with their mouth open, it may be due to allergies. If this is the case, remove all allergens from the house and clean and vacuum regularly to remove pet dander from the house.
Give Your Baby A Warm Bath
A warm bath can help your baby relax and clear out nasal passages and mucus collected during sleep.
Use Saline Drops
Saline drops can help with the mucus flow; It thins out the mucus so it can be easily sucked out. The drops are safe and can be used more than once.
Breastfeeding promotes nose breathing. Try to breastfeed your baby instead of using a bottle. This way, they can develop a habit of nasal breathing.
When To See A Doctor
Suppose none of the remedies listed above are helping. In that case, contact a pediatrician as soon as possible if your baby has difficulty breathing through the nose or if mouth breathing seems to affect the infant’s feeding or sleep.
If you suspect your baby might be mouth-breathing due to something inborn, like a deviated septum or sleep apnea, discuss it with a pediatrician. The doctor can conduct various tests to determine why your baby is breathing through their mouth.
A baby’s habits gradually change from infancy to toddlerhood, and they may eventually stop mouth breathing. A few preventive steps can help improve the baby’s condition at home. If nothing works, see a doctor. The baby will grow better if parents supervise his or her development and have regular doctor’s visits.
FAQs on Baby Sleeping with Mouth Open
Why do Babies Sleep with their Mouths Open?
There are many reasons for mouth breathing in babies like Sleep disorders, Allergies, Obstruction in the airways, and health conditions like tongue tie, deviated septum, and chronic congestion.
Is it normal for babies to mouth breathe?
Most healthy babies tend to breathe through their noses. So open mouth breathing in babies may be because of some problem like obstruction in airways or other health conditions.
Can tongue-tie make baby sleep with mouth open?
Yes, tongue ties can cause a baby to sleep with an open mouth because tongue-tied babies have restricted tongue motion which can obstruct their airways by narrowing the space for nasal breathing.
What can I use if I don’t have a bulb syringe?
If you don’t have a bulb syringe to remove excess mucus from your baby’s nose or sinus cavity, Try using saline drops, as they can help start the mucus flowing by thinning it down.
What is open-mouth syndrome?
Open mouth syndrome is a permanent or nearly persistent facial appearance with an open mouth. It is caused by the baby born with an unusually wide-set mouth or cleft palate. Typically, open mouth syndrome does not impact health and can be corrected with surgery.
At what age do babies breathe through their mouths?
Babies may breathe through their mouths from three to four months of age. Don’t worry about your baby’s mouth breathing as long as he or she is breathing through the nose.